Tourism campaign suffers setback

State blocks funding from federal program for heritage project

February 05, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Lack of funding may throw a monkey wrench into Carroll County's plans to tap into the lucrative heritage tourism market, officials said yesterday.

Local leaders have joined a regional effort to become a state-certified Civil War Heritage Area, though no famous battles were fought in Carroll.

They are touting a skirmish in Westminster and the movement of Civil War troops through the county in a bid for state recognition. Carroll is joined in the effort by Washington and Frederick counties, the sites of well-known clashes between Confederate and Union troops.

Carroll County had asked state officials for permission to use $35,000 in federal transportation planning funds to help pay for a $200,000 heritage area management report, a step required for state recognition. Washington and Frederick counties are expected to contribute $35,000 each for the report; the state would contribute the remainder.

Carroll's request to use the federal money was denied by the transportation steering committee of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a regional planning agency.

"It doesn't seem right," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said of the committee's decision, after learning that Annapolis and Harford County received approval to use federal transportation planning dollars for their heritage area applications.

The county commissioners agreed unanimously to bring the issue to the attention of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council's management committee.

The commissioners also asked Barbara Beverungen, tourism director for Carroll, to draft a letter seeking financial support for the project from the county's eight municipalities.

"It seems to me the towns would be the biggest beneficiaries of this heritage area," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "We need to ask them if they're willing to support this."

Marketing the region

Gouge suggested the towns be asked to contribute $1,000 each to the effort. Several have adopted resolutions stating their support for the application, Beverungen said.

The tri-county Civil War Heritage Area application was submitted in the fall to the Maryland Historical Trust. If the application is accepted, the counties could receive funding to preserve and promote their Civil War-related sites.

"We're trying to market our resources as a region," said Beverungen. "Our hope is that tourists who visit Washington County one day will go on to Frederick County and Carroll County another day."

Bullet holes remain

While Washington County lays claim to the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in the Civil War, and Frederick County is known for the battlefields of South Mountain and Monocacy, Carroll's role in the war consists mainly of marching -- and sleeping -- soldiers.

Some 10,000 soldiers passed by the county seat during the war. Bullet holes can be seen on the wall of the Crest-Trumbo House on Westminster's Main Street. A small sign hung on the building reads: "Struck by gunfire June 29, 1863."

Union campground

Horses, wagons, cannons and soldiers passed through Carroll County on their way to major battles -- most notably, Gettysburg. In 1863, Union Gen. George G. Meade, planning for a major battle with Gen. Robert E. Lee along Big Pipe Creek, set up camp outside Taneytown.

The Maryland Heritage Preservation and Tourism Areas Program, in its third year, is designed to help communities protect and promote their resources. Only Canal Place in Cumberland has been certified as a state heritage area.

Despite its rich history, Maryland lags behind national averages for visitor stays and spending. The state draws more than 20 million visitors annually, generating $7.6 billion, about 80,000 jobs and $360 million in tax revenue, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism.

Pub Date: 2/05/99

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